We've all seen the recent global reaction and demonstrations to 'climate change', and whilst this blog isn't about riding on the back of what's clearly an extremely vital movement this is my 'opinion' piece which I hope helps to highlight that the way we're running the world doesn't have the level of sustainability we have come to know.

I remember in my school days being pressured to wear the right brand of shoes, shirts, trainers etc. We then get into the workplace and unless you're in a job that requires a uniform the pressure is also there.  

Upcycling and recycling is in its own way becoming a movement, even the fashion rental market is getting attention with 'Marks and Spencer' getting involved. 

I was once involved in a company that bought - refurbished - and sold your old media, and today this includes your old tech. Believe me it's a lucrative sector if you can get it right, but for planet earth is it still just kicking the can further down the road?.

"Sweden has set its sights not just on retail and consumerism but one specific sector – fast fashion. And with it, a new term has emerged, one which most likely will be on all our lips before the year is out; köpskam".

It’s a term used to describe the shaming of buying something new, especially apparel. And you can see why. 

According to the United Nations, the fashion industry produces more carbon emissions than all international flights and sea shipments put together.

Question: What's behind the success of the company leaving rival fashion brands Asos and Boohoo in the dust?

The little-known founders of 'Sheinside' got together in 2008, led by entrepreneur Chris Xu, who started out in digital marketing and selling wedding dresses online. 

It's a familiar sight scrolling through YouTube, TikTok and Instagram: A teenager dumps a "haul" of clothing from 'Shein' on her bed, trying on each outfit in turn for likes and followers.

The popularity of the Chinese fast fashion firm has exploded during the pandemic. But if you're over 30? Odds are you haven't heard of it.

Targeting trend (and cost) conscious shoppers on social media, the online-only giant adds a staggering 6,000 new items to its range daily.

But it's also drawn criticism over its environmental impact, a lack of transparency and allegations it copies small designers, which Shein denies and says it takes seriously.

With a shortened name, Shein (pronounced She-in) started out in its current form five years later. Although it's based in China, the firm mainly targets customers in the US, Europe and Australia with its cut-price crop-tops, bikinis and dresses, costing just £7.90 ($10.70) on average.

Today it's one of the biggest players in fast fashion, shipping to 220 countries.

My view is that fast fashion has never been a long term sustainable business, in order to maintain growth required by investors means a constant tug of war between shareholder value, and the 'I want it now' fickle socially savvy consumer,and much less about environmental issues.

I say socially savvy because it's a combination of the numerous social networks the fast fashion companies are on that's helping to fuel the demand without any real perspective (or responsibility) of the hidden environmental cost, and/or solutions that are seen to be informing today's consumer.

"If you’re an online fashion and footwear retailer, you’re probably all too aware of the corrosive effect returns have on your bottom line". 

Across the retail sector, return rates to bricks-and-mortar stores are running at around 8%. 

Compare that with a hefty 40% returns rate for online purchases.

Shein can turn around a new item in about 25 days. For many retailers, it can take months.

It has accelerated the "test and repeat" model, made famous by the likes of H&M and Zara owner Inditex. Just 6% of Shein's inventory remains in stock for more than 90 days, the BBC understands.

The company ships orders to its customers directly, mostly from one 16 million square foot warehouse on the outskirts of Guangzhou.

But its packages often take at least a week to arrive in markets such as the UK and US, unlike competitors such as Boohoo, Asos or OhPolly which offer next-day delivery.

Simply factoring in higher than average return rates is one thing, but factoring those returns during a time of year when retailers are looking to keep resource cost down is where we often see most of the pain being felt.  

Using an army of influencers, from student "campus ambassadors" to reality stars such as Made in Chelsea's Georgia Toffolo, Shein has amassed more than 250 million followers across its social media channels. 

Shein's online presence has been a big driver of its success "as it boosts brand awareness and engagement" - These efforts have been boosted by the fact that it often hosts 'live shows' on its platforms to promote its products.

This is more unique to Shein, as live streaming is used less by Western brands but has huge potential to drive sales, as evidenced in China.

I'm not sure western brands have much to worry about, as long as they get to grips with the unsustainable supply chain model that's fuelling the climate change agenda do you?